Anjali’s phone rang; it was Chotte, “Haan Chotte sab theek hai, haan Ankit theek hai, haan Anya theek hai, haan baba hum bhi theek hain, haan khana khane ja rahe hain, Kya!!!” Anjali looked at her phone, “Yeh Chotte bhi na!”
“Kya hua?” Nani asked Anjali.
“Pata nahi, he was talking and suddenly he said ‘What the’ and disconnected the phone,” Anjali was like ‘what the’ herself, she debated calling back but then Khsitij came in to greet and talk to Nani. Dinner was served in a while and they proceeded to the dining table. The doorbell rang, it was, yes you guessed it, Chotte; Khushi had come along with him; she was carrying a bag, “Kya hua Chotte? Sab theek hai na?” Anjali asked worried.
“Haan Di, sab theek hai,” Arnav said, “Woh…Nani forgot to bring her medicines so we brought them over,” Khushi handed the packet to Vimla chachi to keep in Nani’s room.
“Chotte, how did you know Nani had forgotten her medicines?” Anjali was curious.
“I went to her room and saw her medicine box lying on the table toh obviously I got to know,” Arnav dismissed Di’s question.
“Par Chotte, tum kar kya rahe the Nani ke kamre main?” Anjali cornered Arnav.
Trapped Arnav looked for an escape route, “Achcha we are leaving.”
“Arre Anjie tum bhi na! Let him be,” Khsitij spoke up, “Where are you going Arnav, come have dinner with us, Khushi come, your favorite aloo puri.”
Khushi looked greedily at the mound of a puri plate of rotund puris but she held back as Arnav said, “No thanks Khsitij, some other time perhaps, Khushi and I are going to the Purple Orchid for dinner. I am in the mood for some Italian food. You guys carry on.”
Khushi swallowed and pulled a long face, then coming to a decision, “Ek puri toh banta hai,” she quickly grabbed one and rolled it up with some sabji and bit into it with a blissful expression, “This is food,” she spoke with her mouth full, “Not your hi-fi Italian cuisine with tiny baby sized portions on it,” she chided Arnav, he glared at her, shook hands with Khsitij, muttered a curt “Good night everyone,” and walked out, she followed him. But only after giving Anjali a tight hug, she hugged Nani as well and whispered, “He was missing you Naniji”, they smiled mistily; Khushi grabbed another puri and waved bye to her brother and vanished through the door.
Dinner was a quiet relaxed affair with Nani and Khsitij talking of their experiences of Lucknow, Anjali mostly listened quietly. She was now getting concerned about Nani and of course Chotte, her heart ached for both of them. Nani was right, either way, she lost.
After dinner Anjali accompanied Nani to her room and said, “Dekha Nani, Chotte was loitering around in your room because he missed you so much,” she sighed unhappily, “I wonder what he will do if you do decide to go. But it was good in a way because he got your medicines otherwise you probably wouldn’t have said anything and just skipped your medicines for the night hai na Nani?”
Nani shook her head, “Nahi bitiya, I have already got the medicines I need; I didn’t want to get the whole box,” she hesitated and said, “But it did feel good.” She looked at Anjali, “This is what I was talking about, Chotte has a date with his wife but he still spares me a thought, what more could an old lady ask for?”
“But Nani,” Anjali was not so generous, “Chotte bhi na… he came especially to give your medicines, but he didn’t even talk to you, come to think of it, he didn’t even look at you! Aisa koi karta hai kya?”
Nani laughed affectionately, “That is so typical of Chotte! Shaadi ke baad sab bhul gawa ka? Yehi toh humri Chotte ki khasiyat hai! Apnapan bhi hai aur jataya bhi naahi! He didn’t like it that you asked him what he was doing in my room, uski chori pakdi gayee na, that he was missing me,” Nani’s eyes twinkled mischievously, then she sighed, “And he didn’t look at me or talk to me because he was afraid, afraid that the fragile check he has upon his emotions would break and that he would lose control, he can’t bear the thought of me leaving and he is terribly afraid that I will leave.”
Anjali brushed away her tears, “Toh aap kya karoge Nani,” she asked in a small voice, fingers crossed.
Nani sighed, smiled sadly and said, “Sab Devi Maiyya ki marzee pe chhod diya hai.”
Arnav started the car and drove away; there was silence while Khushi did some pet pooja. Khushi swallowed the last of the crumbs and attacked Arnav, “We went all the way and you didn’t even talk to Nani! Aisa koi karta hai kya?”
“Haan toh! Main aisa hi hoon, Nani samajhti hain,” he shrugged, “Waise bhi I had nothing to say to her,” he said brusquely.
“Nothing to say! Arnav you really amaze me you really do!” Khushi mocked him, “Toh kya farq padta hai, jaane do Nani ko bhi Mumbai,” her voice broke and she turned her face, “Har baar, why does Nani always have to understand? You could have at least said ‘goodnight Nani’ like you do every night?”
At the restaurant, Arnav ordered for them while Khushi went to the restroom to wash her hands; Arnav dug out his mobile and called, “Di, Nani ko phone dena.”
“Hello?” said Nani.
“Haan Nani, main…goodnight Nani”, He disconnected the phone, feeling loads better; he looked up to see Khushi looking at him, her heart in her eyes, he got up and pulled her chair for her, he squeezed her shoulder, she smiled mistily at him, “Devi Maiyya sab theek kar dengi”.
Arnav nodded a bit grimly, “She better, nahi toh mujhse bura koi nahi hoga!”
“ARNAV! Aisa koi bolta hai kya?” Khushi was scandalized.
“Haan toh, meri biwi ki best friend hai woh, itna toh haq banta hai na mera?” Arnav argued.
Khushi laughed shakily, nodded and reached out to clasp his hand; he too put his other hand on hers. They shared a quiet companionable dinner, determinedly pushing what was around the corner further back while DM decided how best to sort it out for them.
Click here for Chapter 110